GOP congressional investigators are examining newly-released texts between FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page that may indicate there was coordination between high-ranking officials at the Obama White House, CIA, FBI, Justice Department and former Senate Democratic leadership near the beginning of the Trump/Russia investigation.
The investigators gleaned their information from Fox News and assert that it “strongly” suggests coordination between former President Barack Obama’s Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, then-Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, and CIA Director John Brennan.
The chronology of events looks like this:
August 2, 2016: Page texts Strzok “Make sure you can lawfully protect what you sign. Just thinking about congress, foia, etc. You probably know better than me.”
August 3, 2016: Strzok texts Page and paints former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe as worried about “information control” regarding the initial investigation into the Trump campaign. On Wednesday, Fox News reported, “According to a report from the New York Times, Brennan was sent to Capitol Hill around the same time to brief members of Congress on the possibility of election interference.”
August 8, 2016: Strzok texts Page: “Internal joint cyber cd intel piece for D, scenesetter for McDonough brief, Trainor [head of FBI cyber division] directed all cyber info be pulled. I’d let Bill and Jim hammer it out first, though it would be best for D to have it before the Wed WH session.” “D” was reportedly FBI Director James Comey; “McDonough” referred to Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, according to GOP investigators.
August 25, 2016: Brennan briefs Harry Reid. A congressional source told Fox News that it is unknown whether a representative from the FBI was present.
August 27, 2016: Reid writes Comey asking him to investigate possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. He states:
The evidence of a direct connection between the Russian government and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign continues to mount and has led Michael Morrell, the former Acting Central Intelligence Director, to call Trump an “unwitting agent” of Russia and the Kremlin. The prospect of a hostile government actively seeking to undermine our free and fair elections represents one of the gravest threats to our democracy since the Cold War and it is critical for the Federal Bureau of Investigation to use every resource available to investigate this matter thoroughly and in a timely fashion.
Reid also stated, “Recent staff changes within the Trump campaign have made clear that the Trump campaign has employed a number of individuals with significant and disturbing ties to Russia and the Kremlin,” adding that he wanted Comey to make the investigation “public.”
Aug. 30, 2016, Strzok texted Page: “Here we go,” and included a link to a New York Times report titled, “Harry Reid Cites Evidence of Russian Tampering in U.S. Vote and seeks FBI inquiry.” Strzok answered, “D [Comey] said at am brief that Reid called him and told him he would be sending a letter.”
Fox News writes, “Congressional investigators suggested that the Reid letter possibly provided ‘cover’ for the fact that the FBI and Justice Department had already begun investigating the Trump campaign in mid-July on what they called “questionable ethical and legal grounds.”
One congressional source told Fox News, “The ‘here we go’ text between Strzok and Page indicates the FBI/ DOJ knew the letter from Reid was coming. This created the inference they knew it would create public calls for an investigation into Russian interference — covering them.”